- QIC: T-Bone
The truth is, I was in bed getting ready to listen to a Podcast on leadership when my phone rang. It was Tonka. The short of the conversation was this: “What are we going to do to help people tomorrow when this storm passes?” It was around 9:30 pm on Saturday, October 8th and Hurricane Matthew was dumping loads of water on the Southeastern seaboard. His question was valid. What would it look like in the gloom? How were we going to help? What were we going to do?
The purpose of this Back Blast is to capture and share some of what occurred over two weeks following, not out of a sense of pride or arrogance, but because there were some amazing stories along the way that need to be told. What you are about to read is only an excerpt of what took place within Greenville, NC and the surrounding community when instances of comaraderie, selflessness, purpose and leadership were the norm. There are some many individuals within F3 and the community that participated in cleanup and rescue efforts, that it’s impossible to name and thank them all, so I won’t even try, but I’m grateful for their hard work, dedication, selflessness and determination. Lastly, this Back Blast and the events told are not about me. They are about how God used the gifts and talents that He provided to me and many others, and sent us to do His work and be His hands and feet and the salt and light in Eastern North Carolina. To Him goes the glory!
We’re not professionals. We didn’t have a plan. We didn’t know what to do. But, we knew people would need help. I honestly don’t remember how we decided to come up with a plan, but I got out of bed and within 2 hours, we had a Google Sheet that was being shared amongst our Regional Q’s (which we often refer to as our Servant Team, because that’s what the Regional Q’s do….they serve the PAX). The document included a tab with a list of resources that the PAX had including equipment and supplies, a tab of needs within the community (which was empty at this point), and a tab of multiple names and contact information for PAX that we knew could mobilize the next day. Tonka and his M Hot Wheels established a F3/FiA ENC Hurricane Matthew Relief Facebook page that would become our main source of recognizing needs and communicating critical information to volunteers and others throughout the community over the coming days. I don’t think anyone realized how effective that site would be in aligning resources with needs and how it provided a sense of hope to those who were in need and didn’t know who to reach out to.
The Day After
Within an hour of waking up, Tonka was over at my house and we were cutting down my neighbor’s tree. From there, we went to another location where a tree was down over a car to help finish cleanup. Other F3 PAX and their families were at Gazelle’s house cutting up a large tree that had fallen in his backyard. Early that morning, the Regional Q’s took a play from the F3 Columbia when their city and surrounding areas were devastated by Hurricane Joaquin in 2015, and we established a Central Command that consisted of Bono a.k.a. “Commander” or “Commando”. All needs, resources and communications were directed through him and he worked to align and mobilize resources as necessary. We realized this would minimize confusion and also allow the PAX in the field to focus on their task at hand rather than be distracted with requests.
In reality, the extent of immediate damage, number of downed trees and visible destruction was minimal. Tonka and I were scouring neighborhoods looking for people in need. The few downed trees we saw were already cut up and sitting by the curb. So around 3 pm we decided to head home and call it quits for the day when we came across a large tree blocking a neighborhood street. We put out the call and had a dozen F3 men onsite before it was over and made quick work of the task. While there we got word that Cypress Glen Retirement Community needed some help moving some items and were looking for guys with truck and handtrucks. We put the word out to Bono and on Twitter and rallied there shortly thereafter.
We didn’t realize the extent of the effort until we arrived and saw the action. PIckup trucks driving along the golf cart path around the back of the facility, and hundreds of volunteers labeling each
All Hands on Deck